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Beijing Cashes In Prosperity In Massive Boost To Military Spending

The Chinese have announced an increase in their military budget of 17.8%. That's a lot of new yuan to spend on military equipment - China's armed forces will get 350.9 billion yuan (about 45 billion dollars) for 2007Taiwan alarmed by China's hike in military budget
Taipei (AFP) March 4 - Taiwan, which has repeatedly warned of the perceived military threat from China, on Sunday expressed alarm over China's military budget increase of 17.8 percent. "The figure marks China's rising threat to Taiwan," said Liu Teh-hsun, spokesman for Taiwan's China policy body, the Mainland Affairs Council, referring to Beijing's pledge to invade Taiwan should the island declare formal independence. In a wide-ranging interview with CNN in January, Taiwan's President Chen Shui-bian accused China of provoking his government by targeting the island with nearly 1,000 missiles.

In reaction to China's continued missile build-up, Taiwan has deployed three US-made Patriot anti-missile batteries to defend the densely-populated Taipei area, and is seeking to purchase more to shield the entire island. China's arms build-up "would also influence regional peace," Liu told AFP. Furthermore, Liu warned, "China's real military expenditure is believed to be much higher."

Jiang Enzhu, a spokesman for the National People's Congress, the Chinese legislature, said military expenditure would account for 7.5 percent of total government expenditure in 2007, compared with 7.4 percent in 2006. In the face of the perceived Chinese military threat, Taiwan plans to lift its military spending, which will account for 2.85 percent of gross domestic product in 2007, up from 2.32 percent in 2005. Tensions between Taiwan and China have escalated since the independence-leaning Chen Shui-bian was elected president in 2000. He was narrowly re-elected in 2004.

by Robert J. Saiget
Beijing (AFP) March 04, 2007
China's defence budget will soar by a massive 17.8 percent in 2007, a senior official announced Sunday, as the United States said it wanted to know more about the Asian giant's intentions. China's armed forces will get 350.9 billion yuan (about 45 billion dollars) for 2007, a rise of nearly 53 billion yuan over actual spending in 2006, said Jiang Enzhu, a spokesman for the National People's Congress, the legislature.

"In recent years, China has gradually been boosting its military expenditures," he told reporters at a briefing in Beijing.

"Our nation has all along rationally set out national defence spending by coordinating national defence with economic development."

Just hours after the announcement, US Deputy Secretary of State John Negroponte, who was on a visit to Beijing, told reporters he would like to know more about what China plans to do with new military hardware.

"The way I phrase our concern is the concern about transparency and the desire to have a more extensive dialogue with China on what their military build-up involves, what the doctrine is that underlies it, and what their intentions are," he said.

Little more than a week ago, US Vice President Dick Cheney said China's military build-up clashed with its repeated claims to be a peaceful power.

Cheney cited a January ballistic missile test by China that destroyed one of its own satellites in space as evidence of the nation's increasing militarisation.

The new budget figures came a day after China voiced its opposition to US plans to sell 450 air and ground missiles to Beijing's arch rival, Taiwan.

A Taiwan government spokesman said Sunday the budget increase marked "China's rising threat" to the island, and that real expenditure could be higher.

Jiang, the Chinese spokesman, said the military expenditure would account for 7.5 percent of total government expenditure in 2007, compared with 7.4 percent in 2006.

"Overall, the proportion has been stable over the past few years," said Jiang, speaking ahead of Monday's opening of the annual session of the legislature, which is to approve the budget.

"The increases have been in order to make up for the weak basis of the nation's defence."

China's military expenditure in 2005 amounted to 1.35 percent of Chinese gross domestic product, compared with 4.03 percent for the United States, Jiang said.

"What I especially want to emphasise is that China persists in following the path of peace and development and in pursuing a defence policy that is defensive in nature," he said.

"China does not have the wherewithal nor the intention to engage in an arms race. China does not pose and will not pose a threat to any country."

China has increased its military spending by double digits nearly every year over the past 15 years, including 14.7 percent last year and 12.6 percent in 2005.

US officials have estimated China's annual defence spending at between 80 and 115 billion dollars, the highest in the world after the United States, and well above their stated budget announced in March 2006 of 35 billion dollars for that year.

Much of the funding is aimed at building a military force capable of reunifying Taiwan by force should the island territory claimed by China seek to realise formal independence, they said.

Jiang also reiterated that constitutional reform efforts by Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian were moving the democratic island dangerously towards formal independence, and warned against such moves.

"To resolutely contain the separatist activities of Taiwan independence forces and safeguard peace in the Taiwan Strait is the most important and urgent task facing compatriots on both sides of the strait," Jiang said.

China "will never tolerate an independent Taiwan and will never permit anyone under any form to split Taiwan from the mainland."

Source: Agence France-Presse

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India Increases Defence Spending Eight Percent
New Delhi (AFP) Feb 28, 2007
India raised spending on its military by 7.8 percent to 21.3 billion dollars for the next fiscal year starting April, the government said in its budget announcement Wednesday. India's military has planned a massive upgrade of its mainly 1990s-era weapons systems, mostly from Cold War ally the former Soviet Union and subsequently Russia. The plans include the purchase of 126 new combat aircraft to replace an ageing fleet of MiG-21s.

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